bok_rev_baker - Brittany Baker 16.895 Book Review Journey...

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Brittany Baker 16.895 Book Review 4/2/07 Journey to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Guidance Computer Few people really understood the magnitude of President Kennedy’s challenge to the American nation in 1961 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. This enormous task was accomplished through the efforts of thousands of people who pushed the limits of technology to new boundaries. Today, when most people think of the Apollo project, they think of Neil Armstrong, the lunar lander, and the rocket technology that was developed to get to the moon. However, in his book, Eldon C. Hall discusses the development of a somewhat overlooked aspect of the Apollo project: the Apollo Guidance Computer. The contract for the development of a guidance computer for the Apollo project was given to the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. Hall joined the MIT Instrumentation team in 1952 after finishing his graduate work in physics at Harvard. While some engineers were developing powerful engines or designing a vehicle to land on the moon, Hall and the other members of the MIT Instrumentation lab were figuring out how these vehicles were actually going to get to the moon. In today’s society where we complain if we have to wait for 20 seconds while our online bank payment is processed, it is easy to forget that computers weren’t always part of everyday life. In fact, at the time of President Kennedy’s challenge, the first digital computers were barely coming into existence. Hall argues that the challenge to develop a computer to successfully navigate to the moon and meet the reliability, weight, and memory requirements rivaled any of the other challenges associated with the Apollo project. In the early 1950s, most computers were still operating off of vacuum-tube
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bok_rev_baker - Brittany Baker 16.895 Book Review Journey...

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